With Easter well and truly over and April coming to a close, some of us may find ourselves patting our chocolate-filled bellies, enjoying the sunshine from the comfort of a lounger in the garden and stocking up on barbecue supplies in preparation of the summer months.
The first week of May brings us Get Walking Week – a festival created to encourage the populace to get active and explore the wonders that await them outside their doorstep, wither it’s making short journeys on foot instead of taking the car or finding time out with working hours to enjoy a more lengthy trek.
Without trying to state the obvious – walking is good for you.
Keen walkers frequently boast of the physical and mental benefits of walking; stating that as well as being a good way to stay fit and tone lower-body muscles, it also offers a form of stress relief and can greatly improve your mood.
Further to the health benefits that come with walking, Britain’s beautiful and diverse landscapes – in particular the West Coast of Scotland (in our unbiased opinion!) – have many nature walks, national parks and mountain paths to explore, offering breath-taking scenery out onto lochs, glens and forests.
The best thing about walking is that anyone can enjoy it: it’s free and you can go at your own pace. All you need is a pair of shoes and you’re ready to get going!
Start of small, building up your pace and distance through time – it’s never a good idea to over exert yourself, which could lead to injuries like sprains.
For those who fancy a slightly lengthier walk; it’s always a good idea to bring plenty of water and some snacks with fast-releasing carbohydrates like fruit. (A raincoat wouldn’t go amiss either!)
Avoiding Soreness and Fatigue
Muscle soreness and fatigue is a symptom and consequence of most physical activities and is usually fixed with a good rest. Though you’re unlikely to get any from light strolls and shorter walks, long and hilly ventures could leave you sore for days!
Massage is a useful tool to help relieve tightness and stiffness in muscle tissue and can reduce fatigue and soreness by increasing the blood circulation, bringing more oxygen and nutrients into the muscle.
For walkers we would recommend getting a leg specific massage to concentrate on easing the tension in your tired limbs before going on your next adventure!
The Easter Holidays are upon us! There were times, I’m sure, that you felt this day would never come – after what seemed like an endless winter – and now that it’s here you can finally have that much needed break that you deserve! Though for those sitting at home waiting out the rain by catching up on TV in the hopes that the sun will shine once again; we implore you to resist the urge. With Spring in full swing there is ample opportunity to make the most of your break.
Believe it or not, Easter is about more than just gorging on chocolate eggs and rendering that “New Year Diet” obsolete! Here, at the bonnie West Coast, there is a whole range of activities and events to celebrate the season and so guests to the area will find themselves spoilt for choice.
Being largely unspoilt by modern metropolitan culture, the West Coast adorns several scenic nature walks with viewpoints looking out to the unbeatable landscapes that Scotland has become famous for.
The three-week Spring Festival, on the Isle of Colonsay, runs every year from the end of April and offers a variety of workshops, demonstrations and live music. This is a fantastic opportunity to learn new quirky skills, like Stone Carving, and revel in a more traditional culture.
Trips to the Isles
A trip to the Isle’s is always a nice day out: wither it’s just for a couple of hours to the Isle of Kerrera for a bite to eat at their popular Seafood restaurant; a few hours with a bike to the Isle of Lismore cycling it’s lengths down to the Lighthouse; or a day trip to Mull to stop by Tobermory, Duart Castle or hop over to some of the smaller Isles. For the Virtuoso’s amongst us, keep an ear out for the Mull Music Festival in Tobermory, at the end of April, celebrating the best of local music.
With the weather subsided to a reasonable mixture of sunshine, cloud and showers the locals are beginning to come out of hibernation and very soon the ever-popular farmer markets will once again become a frequent fixture in the area. This year our neighbours down at Kintaline Farm are hosting the “Lorn Community Producers Market – Spring Fayre” on 17th April which celebrates the local food and crafts, with community organisations and fun activities throughout.
Cadbury Easter Egg Trail
Well it just wouldn’t be Easter without an Easter egg hunt and this year Argyll council are hosting theirs in Arduaine Gardens, near Oban, between 18th - 21st April. A great day out for the whole family as you enjoy the stunning surroundings of the gardens on your hunt for the hidden chocolate treasure!
The West Coast of Scotland's unique location offers a breathtaking alternative to the larger cities and towns, allowing you to experience the true beauty of the Scottish Highlands and Islands.
With a variety of events being hosted by the community on a regular basis, there's always something different to do and see for everyone, adding to your holiday and creating a truly unbeatable experience
It’s come to that time of year when the weather is starting to pick up, the schools are finishing up for the summer and tourists are flooding into cities all around the world.
Short summer breaks are just what you need to escape the monotony of every-day life. For those planning on joining us at the West Coast this summer, here's some activities on and around Eriska to help plan the perfect getaway itinerary:
Thing to do on the Island
The main house is set in the centre of the island and is surrounded by an abundance of flora and wildlife wherein lies a selection of nature paths for our guests to explore. From all points of the island there are amazing views to be witnessed, and with each walk varying in length both casual walkers and experienced hikers have the chance to behold the wonders of the Island.
For those wishing to really take advantage of the Island experience, we offer a wide range of activities so that there’s always something for everyone: relax and regenerate at our stables spa, complete with swimming pool, sauna and hot tub for an escape of pure luxury; test your skill on our 9-hole golf course and driving range, or build up a sweat in our indoor sport facility with a spot of tennis, badminton, football and more.
Our 300 acre island is home to more than just the estate; many birds and animals reside in the depths of the vegetation that are unlikely to be spotted in a metropolitan setting. Many a guest have the enjoyment of waking up in the morning to the harmonies of several species of birds chirping in the distance and often spot deer, otters, badgers and seals while exploring the islands depths. For the keen birdwatchers, we have over 100 species of birds on and around the island including the rare white-tailed sea eagle which has been said to make an appearance by our golf course
For those looking for something a little unusual, we offer the fast-paced heart-pounding experience of clay pigeon shooting. Test your skill with a rifle as the clays are sent soaring through the air, along with our experienced instructor.
Activities and Places to Visit near Eriska
- Sea Life Centre
Located only a mile from Benderloch, you don't have to go too far to have a fun afternoon.The Scottish Sea Life Sanctuary homes a variety of different and interesting fish and aquatic animals, offering frequent talks, feedings and displays each day to help you get better acquainted with your favourites
Our neighbours down at Tralee Bay offer a great variety of quirky activities to try. Explore their vast hilly terrain and fantastic open views as you guide your segway through some of Scotland's most scenic countryside or attempt to walk on water in one of the huge 2 meter water walkers. With activities for all ages, it truly is a great family day out!
Charter your own boat to take you around the Isles from Eriska's own Pier. Coastal Connection offer a selection of different Island tours ideal for couples and large groups, allowing you to witness the beauty of the west coast from a whole different perspective.
For those looking to go on a bit of an adventure, Stramash offer a plethora of outdoor activities for a wide range of skill sets. Archery, Coastering, Sailing and Kayaking are just a few of the things you can try in many of the local stunning settings around the Argyll area
Eriska offers the perfect getaway; it’s location in the West Coast of Scotland places it right in the heart of the Scottish Highlands, offering beautiful picturesque scenery and tranquility and with the vast range of activities both on and around the Island our guests will never lack something to do.
Our popular three-night breaks offers the perfect amount of time to explore and indulge, with rates starting at just £585.00 per person. And with our pay before you stay option, you can save a further 10% on top of this.
Following our brief glimpse of sunshine last week, a wave of optimism has hit Scotland.
No longer do we feel doomed to suffer through days where darkness dominates the sky and strong cold winds hit our faces. The frost and ice that remains hidden in the shade has begun to thaw leaving the fresh beauty of Spring in it's wake.
But it's a long way yet before our battle with the rain comes to an end with the forecast this coming week leaving little to be admired
Today: Things are anticipated to stay quite dull, with dark clouds consuming the sky and showers of light rain throughout.
Monday: Another cloudy day ahead. Things expected to remain mostly dry throughout the later morning and afternoon.
Tuesday: Heavy rain showers projected to fall for the best part of the morning, with some brief intervals of sunshine
Wednesday: Looks to be another wet day, with more heavy rain and moderate winds
Thursday: Predominately wet, with a mixture of light and heavy rain.
Friday: More rain continues to fall, though we may see some patches of sunshine in the afternoon.
Saturday: Projected to remain unchanged, ending this week on a dreich note.
Though it may seem there is no end in sight to the dour Scottish weather, we implore you to remain hopeful. With summer looming ever nearer, it's only a matter of time before the sun becomes a more dominant feature to our days.
In the meantimes, for those coming to stay with us in the coming weeks, we encourage you to explore all that the area has to offer. With local businesses and visitor attractions coming out of hibernation our guests have more activities at their disposal than ever, and our team would be happy to advise on the perfect ones to fit the interests of each individual.
After what seemed like an endless winter, things on the west coast of Scotland are starting to brighten up.
Though the rain remains annoyingly persistent, spells of sunshine are becoming longer and more frequent as the days go by and it won't be long before the cold and stormy weather seems like a distant memory.
The weather this coming week definitely seems a vast improvement on its predecessors and likely the driest of the year so far; though it may be a bit early yet to retire the raincoats and umbrellas as things are likely to take a bit of a turn at the end of the week.
Today: Today, showers of rain are expected to fall for the majority of the day, with some brief patches of dryness in the afternoon.
Monday: Things are looking to dry up significantly, with white cloud and sunny intervals reported to last all day.
Tuesday: Starting with a bit of a chilly morning, Tuesday will evolve into a bright and sunny day making it the nicest of the week.
Wednesday: Projected to remain dry, but cloudy throughout
Thursday: Some light rain will start of the morning, though will clear up mid-morning and remain dry.
Friday: The weather takes a turn, with light rain expected all day.
Saturday: Ending on a bit of a dour note with heavy rain dominating.
Although we're not completely clear of the rain, the change is definitely coming and before you know it we'll be complaining we're too warm and hoping for a bit of a drizzle to cool us down.
Until then we'll be taking full advantage of the small amounts of sunshine we can get, using the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and fresh flora and fauna - which is becoming more lively every week - and hope that our guests do the same.
Often you do not appreciate what you have until someone points it out!
Last week i received a wonderful surprise when a parcel arrived by courier. Nowadays with the wonderful royal mail we seem to have continual deliveries of boxes and parcels and since the birth of Amazon - it seems to give people of Eriska a lifeline to the real world- strange when Oban and the touch shops are only 12 miles away but I suppose this is a sign of the times and a perfect example of the computer age- its easier and probably more cost effective to sit on your couch at home and order items than to get ina car and travel and converse with a shop attendant just down the road.
Anyway the courier left and I was confronted by a carborrd box which intrigued me- what had someone seen as being so important to send a van from Glasgow to deliver. So I opened it with caution and was delighted to see a copy of a new hardback book entitled
As one would expect it had a wonderful paradise island on the front cover and an excellent foreword written by Farhad Vladi, in which he explains the mystery surrounding islands and the magnetic draw which has made him photograph and track private islands for the last 40 years- and indeed it is the same draw which made me keep turning the pages to see the next wonderful spot myself .
So it was probably no surprise that one hour later and 96 islands later I was still flicking through and ignoring my long list of jobs left for me. however the perseverance was worth it as I turned the page and came across a very familiar shot- one of Eriska! I had not anticipate this nor had I been aware, I had not thought of Eriska as one of the 101 Best Islands in the World but was clearly thrilled to be included.
In short we are an island, we are in a stunning part of the world and the location scenery and climate has its own charms and personality as individual and unique as Necker Island in the Caribbean or Heron Island in Australia. Sometimes we simply need to stop- look around- immerse ourselves in our environment and simply appreciate how lucky we are!
So it is great to be reminded by the book and I am sure it will become one of the most read books in the drawingroom and I wonder how many guests will get as far as page 184!
This week marks a stark change in the West Highalnd Seasons
Its often amazing how the climate seems to remain the same and then suddenly overnight we flip into a completely different season. So it has been this week as we started with a mild - if damp - Monday and this was soon followed by torrential rain- stories of 6 inches falling in 45 minutes do not seem implausible- and strong winds so that today when we awaken - the leaves are off the trees, the temperature is almost 10 degrees lower and the mountains of Kingairloch and Ben Cruachan have white snow caps adorning them- winter is truly here!
Strangley it seems later than usual and this woudl not be a surprise as the summer seemed to continue longer than normal and this has pushed autumn into November. The Deer Rut and stalking was certainly later and whilst I am hearing stories of a great month on the mountains with fantastic images of Rutting Stags it does play havoc with my plans for collecting leaves in October and we still have a lot of raking and burning to do now to get tideied up for Christmas
It is one of the stregnths of Scotland the ever changing weather and certainly one of te attractions compared with places that never seem to alter seasons- fortunately its one which we appreciate even if its also one we seem to continually complain about! So what is in store for this first week of winter!
Today: Bright with sunny spells and scattered showers today although be warned that the showers will be fierce!
Monday: Bright with sunny spells, but also scattered showers, mainly over higher ground at first, but developing further east during the afternoon, perhaps the odd heavy one later over Eriska. Fresh or strong west to northwesterly winds slowly easing.
Tuesday: Showers will become more isolated and confined to coastal areas , with long clear spells inland, leading to fairly widespread frost over rural parts as the winds fall light.
Wednesday: A few showers continuing , otherwise a dry and bright day with lengthy spells of sunshine for most parts. Light west to northwesterly winds.
Thursday: Rain clearing to showers then bright with sunny spells and showers in the evening.
Friday:After a dry night some heavy and prolonged periods of rain. Windy, risk of gales
Saturday:Rain will soon clear leaving clearer but showery weather for most of the weekend. It is likely to stay largely unsettled thereafter with showers or longer spells of rain, locally heavy.
As we do have a considerable wealth in terms of nature and scenic landscapes we wanted to share some of our walking routes with you, perfect for the full day trip, the holiday challenge, and some of the smaller ones near and around our beautiful island!
For the leisurely strolls there are plentiful walks within a short distance of Eriska whether it be the circular walk round the Island of Kerrera or the energetic climb up Ben Cruachan, the office at the hotel can offer guidance, maps and even a Garmin Handheld GPS to insure you are fully equipped.
Ben Cruachan - 14km /8.5 miles - 7 hours - 9 hours
Ben Cruachan is one of the finest Munro's in the southern Highlands, its pointed peak towering above its rocky satellites giving great views. Ranging 1376m above sea level it is quite a challenge. The ridge walk to Stob Daimh makes a great circuit around the Cruachan reservoir. It consists of steep and rocky paths with a small section of easy scrambling. The descent is a grassy slope which can be boggy in the final sections.
The video above shows off some of the incredible views and the challenge of getting to the top and back down the Stob Daihm route.
Only a 30 Min drive from Isle of Eriska, following the A85. Should you wish to use public transport, Ben Cruachan is available by train and bus. Get the train from Connel Ferry to Falls of Cruachan Station (summer only) or the bus service to Ben Cruachan Power Station Visitor Centre.
What to bring...
This one of the more challenging hikes and would be in need of some planning depending on the season, navigation skills and much more! Some of the basics are as follows;
Food & Drink
The actual amount of energy needed depends on a number of factors: your body weight, age, gender plus the distance and total height gain of the walk. In hill walking, your muscles need both carbohydrate and fatty acids. If the available carbohydrate is reduced too much, then you will have to slow down. Good food also provides the motivation to complete - and enjoy - your expedition.
The most important requirement is water. When we exercise, our body temperature is controlled by the evaporation of sweat from the body surface. If your body is dehydrated, then heat can't be dissipated in this way. This can result in the rapid onset of heat exhaustion.
There is definately more planning in these long walk and some essentials are needed;
- Suitable clothing and footwear
- Suitable map, compass and a route plan
- Basic first aid kit
- A watch
Remember that the essentials may vary depending on season! There is much difference between getting heat struck and snow and ice!
Walking on Isle of Lismore (Achnacroish and Salen Circuit) - 9.5km / 5.75 miles - 2.5 hours - 3.5 hours
Lismore, long, narrow, low-lying and fertile, sits neatly in Loch Linnhe in the south-western end of the Great Glen. The island is tranquil and unspoiled, and surrounded on all sides by stunning mountain scenery, from Ben Nevis in the north (snow-covered in winter) and the Glencoe hills, round, in a clockwise direction, to Ben Cruachan, the hills of Mull to the south and Morvern to the west.
There is a network of little-used old footpaths which criss-cross the island and make possible a variety of different routes. All could be done in a day from the mainland.
This fine circuit starts at Achnacroish, the 'capital' of the beautiful island of Lismore and landing point for the Oban car ferry. It follows sections of both the southeast and northwest coastline of the island and offers wonderful views as well as a cafe at the half way point.
First section of path can be boggy but the rest of the walk follows tracks and minor roads. A short section of track at Salen can be impassable at very high tides. For detailed walk descriptions follow this link
Only a 20 minute drive from Isle of Eriska is Port Appin where the ferry takes you over to Lismore. Leave the car on the main land and the ferry takes you across for £1.60 per person every full hour and leaves back every half hour.
What to bring...
Good shoes although it may be mainly flat, good shoes are a walker's best friend! A small rucksack with an extra dry layer is always recommended. Halfway through the circuit you will reach the Lismore Heritage Centre and cafe where you can enjoy tea and cakes. If you are more of the packed lunch kind of person the hotel can provide packed lunches with fruit and sandwiches.
Beinn Lora - 5.5km / 3.4 Miles or 15.5KM / 9.6 Miles - 2.5 hours - 4.5 hours
Beinn Lora may only be 308 metres high but its position means that the magnificent views from its summit match those from many a Munro. The approach uses way marked forestry walks but the section before the final pull up to the top is a swamp. If you have four legged friends bring them with you, they are good help on the steepest parts and excellent walking company.
The walk can be started from the hotel or from the Beinn Lora car park in Beinn Lora which is part of Barcaldine. Benderloch is the nearest town or village. The car park is situated next to Ledaig Motors filling station or 'Pink Shop' in the centre of Benderloch on the A828 Oban to Fort William road and the sign for Beinn Lora is visible from the road. This is the start of two woodland walks with steep climbs but fantastic views over the Lynn of Lorne.
Only 4 miles from the hotel, following the A828, one can be at the foot of Beinn Lora within a swift 10 minutes by car or approximately 1 hour if one decides to walk from the hotel.
When starting from the car park one can start by walking left or right (both taking you up to the same point), the only difference is that the path to the right will be steeper t first before it becomes flatter midway, the path leading left will start off slightly easier but become steep at the top. Personally we believe the best views are from the path to the right! If you follow this link, it will take you through the walk step by step. On a sunny day you look straight onto Lismore in the background.
What to bring...
Good shoes, some areas of this walk is quite rocky and a solid thick sole in your shoes will help a lot. A small rucksack for a packed lunch is essential, and should you have a sweet tooth the 'pink shop' is conveniently placed at the bottom for those who like to bring that little extra treat. Your camera! This 'little' hill has some stunning views not to be missed! Also do you have four legged friends bring them too, they are great for pulling you up the hills!
Walking on Isle of Kerrera - 9.65km / 6 miles - 2.5 hours - 3.5 hours
Take a trip to Kerrera to hike around the circular 6 mile route cutting across to the other side of the island to enjoy views of Mull and Lismore. Kerrera is the island which is visible directly from Oban Bay. Kerrera is quite a large island and can be compared with Scarba, Seil and Luing, it is however scarcely populated and provides excellent shelter for the Oban harbour. The current population is around 35 people.
Starting from the ferry terminal, this route heads south along the east coast of the island. The bay on your left-hand side here is called Horseshoe Bay. It was here in 1249 that King Alexander II died while attempting to re-take western Scotland from the Norwegians.
On reaching the south of the island the route passes a tea shop, the only source of refreshments and public toilets on the walk, then leaves the main track to visit Gylen Castle and the southern shore of the island, with good views out to sea.
Gylen Castle (the name means 'Castle of Fountains') has a shorter history than most Scottish castles: built in 1582 by MacDougalls of Dunollie (just north of Oban), destroyed by the Covenanters under General Leslie in 1647 and restored in 2006, the work being financed by Historic Scotland and the worldwide MacDougall clan.
The return route, still with plenty of interest and good views, starts parallel to the western shore of the island, but a little higher on an old drovers' road, before cutting across the hilly interior of the island to return to the ferry terminal
It takes only 20 minutes by car from Eriska following the A828 to Oban. The Kerrera Ferry Time Table can be found here or you can get the small shuttle from Oban to Kerrera.
What to bring...
If you are out for the day, a packed lunch is good to have - if you let us know in advance we can provide some lovely packed lunches for the whole family. If you check in advance, Kerrera Tea Garden may be open and can offer traditional and home cooked foods, including their own baked bread and cakes - the perfect place for a treat after a walk.
Walking on Isle of Eriska - From 30 mins to 1.5 hours
Eriska itself is a 300 acre paradise. The Island sits at the mouth of Loch Creran, a Marine Site designated Special Area Conservation. Part of the charm of Eriska is the ability it offers to explore the estate and enjoy the island as if it were your own. From the formal ground to the western seaboard to the rugged hill side, the whole estate has a charm and is genuinely interesting and exciting to explore whether you are a nature and wildlife devotee or simply keen to walk and wander the many paths and trails in search of peace and tranquillity.
It is easy to do simply walk till you meet the sea, turn left or right and when you reach the bridge or the Pier simply head back to the main house. Alternatively pick up a map of the island and guide yourself around using the white posts which mark the trails and stop off at the information points to learn about the flora, fauna and wildlife as you explore Eriska.
A map of the island is available from reception but also through this link.
The Easy Walk
Mainly flat, and will not require much preparation. You can walk down to the pier, across the golf course, or past the driving range, walking towards the west side of the island. Terrain is mainly flat with accessible paths.
The Moderate Walk
The moderate option would take you down to the heronry, back up to the cairn and down the path above the hotel. In this loop the paths are easily recognisable with some hills and uneven surfaces as you go along.
The Scrambly Walk
Takes you along the shoreline on the west side of the island and down towards Mrs B's house. You can start by walking down to the pier and along the shoreline, or walk through the putting range and down the path following the white signs (this one is slightly easier to walk). Further down you will see Wache, he sits on the stone watching over the island and its guests. For this walk, keep an eye on the tides!
Hill Skills Summary
For the shorter walks on the island
Like most walks in the countryside always let people know where you go, dress for the weather and, bring a camera, borrow a pair of wellies from the main entrance if you were so unlucky to forget shoes or misinterpret the weather for your stay (nearly impossible if you follow our West Coast Weather blog each week). Is the weather warm, remember to bring a bottle of water with you! Follow these simple 'rules' and you will, without a doubt, enjoy your walk!
For the longer walks
Food & Drink
In hill walking, your muscles need both carbohydrate and fatty acids. If the available carbohydrate is reduced too much, then you will have to slow down. Good food also provides the motivation to complete - and enjoy - your expedition. If you in advance are planning to go for hill walks while you are here let us know and we can provide packed lunches with delicious sandwiches, fruit and a bottle of water. The most important requirement is water! When we exercise, our body temperature is controlled by the evaporation of sweat from the body surface.
Footwear & Clothing
Walking boots should be like a good friend - supportive without being irritating. Your shoes for the longer walk should therefore be;
- Water proof
- High enough to support your ankle.
- Padded - the insole and upper lining should give a firm but comfortable support to the whole foot.
Always bring the appropriate layers depending on season and destination! Having extra dry layers can make such a difference.
Some of the Essentials
- Suitable map, compass and a route plan
- Basic first aid kit
- A watch
- A torch
For more information on hill skills visit the British Mountaineering Council!
Last week the Three Peaks Yacht Race kicked off in Barmouth! It is one of the oldest and most extraordinary extreme multi-sport endurance races in the world.
We thought we would write a bit about it as we received a fugitive from the storm building up during the race last Friday. At the far right in the above picture lies Driac. As the weather was forecasted to become more challenging over the weekend and the team had experienced some problems, they decided to anchor up at our pier at Eriska. Driac is a Champer & Nicholson 1930 and has an experienced team with skipper Charles Lyster, Crew members; Mr Nick Ray & Mr Vernon Gayle and Runners; Mr Stefan Fritz and Miss Julie Shaunessey.
Each year this classic sporting event combining sailing, running and cycling, challenges intrepid teams to sail from the mid-Wales coastal resort of Barmouth, up the west coast of the UK, to finish in Fort William. Teams of four or five per yacht sailed from Barmouth to Fort William, with two from each crew climbing the highest mountains of Wales, England and Scotland en route, and running the equivalent of three marathons in 3 or 4 days!
The race draws competitors from a wide variety of sporting backgrounds and sailing experience, ranging from off-shore cruising to round-the-world racing. Sailing and sports clubs, military and company teams all enter the race and compete on equal terms. The Race has attracted competitors from all over the UK, Finland, Sweden, Belgium, Eire, Norway, USA, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, South Africa, and Australia.
How the Three Peaks race came to be
H.W. (Bill) Tilman was a famous English mountaineer and explorer and known for his adventures as a climber and sailor. Living in Barmoth the inspiration behind the idea of a race was conceived by his doctor, Rob Haworth.
The actual idea of making it into a race came from Rob Haworth’s partner, Dr Merfyn Jones. Sitting around the kitchen table on a cold winter’s evening in 1976 Rob recounted his idea for his holidays. Merfyn heard him out and then said “wouldn’t it make a marvellous race”. They set out a rough map using kitchen utensils, with bottles to represent the mountains, and worked out the logistics. Merfyn spent his spring break checking out the course, a committee was formed from local people interested in sailing and Bill Tilman was invited to be the race president.
Seven teams took part in the first race in 1977, and it took those entrants just over 5 days to sail 389 miles, climb 11,000 feet and walk or run 73 miles. Unusually monohulls and multihulls raced together without handicap for the first 11 years. This year, today it is a fierce race against time.
The Ultimate Challenge
For the sailors, the Race includes many seamanship problems not normally associated with yacht races: the crossing of Caernarfon Bar, the treacherous Swellies in the Menai Straits, the rounding of the Mull of Kintyre, the whirlpools of the notorious Gulf of Corryvreckan, and finally the narrows at Corran where the ebb will stop the boat dead in the water. Thus a well found boat is needed and much meticulous planning and preparation is required for success. Yachts are not designed for rowing and to get the best out of oars, which many boats carry, special fittings are needed.
The runners, both gentlemen and ladies, include some of the finest fell runners and marathon runners in the country. Generally marathon runners don’t much care for running up and down hills and fell runners are equally adverse to running on roads. The mountains present problems of their own; there is always snow on Ben Nevis, even in June; wind, rain and mist can make conditions atrocious. Added to which many have to do their running in the dark and for those who suffer from sea sickness they do not even start the runs feeling at their best. The faster the yacht sails the quicker the runs come round. For the leading boats the runners usually have to do the first two runs, 24 miles and 48 miles respectively during one 24-hour period.
In 2000, the port of Whitehaven replaced the port of Ravenglass as the port for Scafell Pike. This being further away than the previous port, bicycles are now being used for the first 15 miles to the mountain before the runners are again faced with an extra 2,000ft high mountain pass! The talents of the runners and the sailors must be combined – teamwork is really essential in this race.
The Race is a journey through much of the finest scenery in the UK. Barmouth itself lies at the mouth of the Mawddach estuary described by Wordsworth as “sublime”. When leaving Whitehaven to go to Fort William (approximately 227 sea miles), the teams round the Mull of Kintyre and go into the Sound of Jura, through more beautiful scenery but with many tidal gates to negotiate. The race finishes just north of Fort William at Corpach, the entrance to the Caledonian canal where the sailing is over and skippers can relax. The runners, after checking in with the marshals, set off to the summit of Ben Nevis, finishing when they return to cross the finish line.
Being the ultimate challenge in the UK, the Three Peaks Race has spawned other 3 Peaks yacht races in other part of the world, amongst some; Australia and Hong Kong which has lead 3 Peaks yacht racing to become a genre of its own.
Do you feel like challenging yourself yet? Next year's race has already been planned to start 7th June 2014 - so you have plenty of time to prepare yourself!
I had a phone call a few days ago, and they asked me if the hotel was well liked by couples looking to relax and enjoy a proper getaway. And I thought, YES absolutely!
Having talked to a few guests and their plans for their stay, we decided to list some of the things couples enjoy doing when they come for a weekend, whether it is for a few days away from the hectic life of work or celebrating an anniversary. We have listed just some of the things you can do when staying at Eriska for all year round and some tips to actually leave the ever present world behind for a weekend. You will undoubtedly find your own ways of making it worth remembering.
10 Ways to Rekindle the Romance in Eriska.
Enjoy long meals together, spend time in the morning and just chat over a long breakfast.
Curl up together by the fireplace in the hall/lounge in the hotel with a good book. The hotel has many books to borrow away and can be found throughout the hotel.
Take some time off the iPhone and iPad when you are here and enjoy each others company.
Book a spa treatment together, it is the ultimate relaxation. A holistic total body care massage lasts for 85 minutes and will leave both body and soul in harmony.
Enjoy a relaxing evening in the hot tub - the spa suites come with their own garden and hot tub and are strictly for couples.
Go for a picnic together! The island has many treasured spots to settle down for a bite, the food is prepared by the kitchen to take away and maps of the island are available at the reception.
Challenge each other in a mini tournament of putting, winner gets to chose next week's favourite TV show or where the next restaurant visit goes.
Go for a day-trip to the surrounding islands, Scotland's West Coast host impressive scenery with beautiful beaches, the romantic Eilean Donan Castle on the Isle of Skye, and rich history and culture to be experienced on the isles of Mull and Iona.
Spend an evening by the bar in the concervatory and wait for the badgers to come visit the steps.
10. Sit by the cairn at Eriska to watch the sunset (which is around 22:00 these days).
Coming to Eriska you will have time for at least two of these 'activities' if not more. As one of our guests said; "All in all, Eriska is a lovely spot to spend some time relaxing, eating well, and curling up by the log fires with a good book".
Eriska has so many places waiting to be explored and is the perfect escape for those in need of some pampering, sea air, delicious food and good wine.